It's been well over a month since the Boston Bruins lost at home. That run wouldn't seem likely to end against the last-place New York Islanders, but they've been very good on the road lately.
Winning a ninth straight home game will be a bit easier for the Bruins if captain Zdeno Chara returns to the lineup Tuesday night against an Islanders team seeking rare back-to-back victories.
Chara helped the Bruins (26-11-2) to a 5-0 win over Ottawa on Friday, their eighth straight home victory which improved them to 13-0-2 at TD Garden since a 4-3 loss to New Jersey on Oct. 26.
The standout defenseman, however, sat out the back end of that home-and-home series the next night with a lower-body injury.
He took part in practice Monday and could return Tuesday, which would be a huge boost for a Bruins team already missing defensemen Dougie Hamilton (lower body) and Dennis Seidenberg (knee) and forward Loui Eriksson (concussion).
"He's progressing and we'll make a decision depending on how he is tomorrow," coach Claude Julien said.
Chara's absence was evident Saturday as Boston lost 4-3 to snap a three-game win streak. Tuukka Rask was pulled 29 seconds into the second period after allowing three goals on 12 shots. He had surrendered three goals in his previous four games, posting a .976 save percentage.
''Our guys battled hard,'' Julien said. ''It would have been nice to come out of here with at least a point. I thought we deserved that much with how hard we competed to get ourselves back in the game, but unfortunately that wasn't the case."
Saturday also marked the end of Boston having a player score two goals for seven straight games, matching a team record set in 1929.
The Bruins, who won 14 in a row at home in 2008-09, have outscored opponents 11-1 in their last three games there.
Rask is 10-0-2 with a 1.31 goals-against average in his last 12 starts at TD Garden.
David Krejci has four goals and seven assists during an eight-game home point streak, while Reilly Smith has scored twice in each of the last two in Boston.
While the Islanders (12-21-7) rank near the bottom of the league's overall standings, they enter this matchup a confident group after erasing a three-goal deficit for their third straight road win, 5-4 over Minnesota on Sunday.
Kyle Okposo scored twice in a three-goal third period as New York rallied to win after trailing by at least three for the first time since March 22, 1994.
''We just kept chipping away and kept chipping away,'' said Okposo, who has six goals and 11 points in the last nine games. ''We were down 3-0, and kind of regrouped. We decided to go after them and start moving our feet.
''For the first 22 minutes we weren't doing that, so we decided to get pucks deep and go to the net.''
Sunday's comeback gives the Islanders a chance to win two straight for only the second time and first since Nov. 1-2.
Evgeni Nabokov is likely to be back in net Tuesday after Kevin Poulin faced the Wild. Nabokov is 2-2-2 with a 1.97 GAA in six games since missing nearly a month with a groin injury.
Okposo matched a career high with three assists in the Islanders' 3-1 home victory over the Bruins on Nov. 2. New York has won the last two meetings after losing six of seven in the series.